Poultry Industry Statistics (2023): Meat & Egg Production
The poultry industry has seen spectacular growth in the last decades due to the rising demand for eggs and meat. However, the industry had to overcome large challenges with the 2022 HPAI-wave of avian influenza. Many birds have been culled, resulting in global egg shortages.
We discuss the evolution of meat and egg production over the last couple of years and take a look at future predictions. There is an incredible amount of birds spent in the industry with short lifecycles and high feed conversion ratios, and there is much to discuss regarding animal welfare.
Here is a summary of what you’ll learn in this statistical roundup:
- Chicken Meat
If you’re looking for chicken population and slaughter statistics, take a look at our article on worldwide chicken population statistics.
Poultry Industry Statistics (Top Picks)
Chicken Meat Production Worldwide
There is a general upward trend in worldwide chicken meat production, with some variations in the growth rate from year to year.
Chicken meat production is forecasted to be 103.4 million metric tons globally in 2023, mostly due to increased production in Brazil and the United States. Despite elevated feed prices, low corn and soybean prices are boosting production in many countries.
Here are the exact numbers for the last years in metric tons:
|Year||Global Chicken Meat Production|
With an average weight of 2.5 kilograms (5,5 pounds) for a processed chicken and a meat yield percentage of 70%, you would need 59,354,286 chickens to produce 103,418,000 metric tons of chicken meat. In reality, it’s much more.
Produced Chickens per Continent
In 2021, a total of 70,663,503,000 birds were produced/slaughtered globally. Almost half of the production comes from Asia, with a head count of almost 33 billion chickens.
Source: FAO; data last accessed May 2023
|Continent||Produced Meat Chickens / Slaughtered|
Produced Chickens per Country
China and the United States are the biggest producers. In 2021, China was the largest producer, with an estimated production of approximately 11,091,585,000 birds and over 15% of the global production.
The United States once accounted for 17% of the global production but is down to a little over 13% of the output, with 9,325,584,000 chickens in 2021 (official figure). U.S. production is forecasted to rise by 1% in 2023, even with HPAI-related restrictions still in place.
While meat production rises in the United States, it has stabilized in China, where the increase in white feather broilers compensates for the decrease in yellow feather broiler production in 2023.
Here is the list of top-producing countries:
|Country||Number of Chickens Produced|
|United States of America||9,325,584,000|
|Iran (Islamic Republic of)||1,881,311,000|
Brazil is expected to experience a 3 percent increase in chicken meat production, reaching a record high of 14.9 million tons of chicken meat in 2023. Brazil had the largest chicken meat production in January 2023, with a staggering 14,745,000 metric tons exceeding the Chinese production by 445 thousand tons.
Produced Chickens per Person
Although China and the United States are at the top of the list, China had only seven chickens produced per person in 2021, while the United States had more than 28:
Looking at these numbers, India is actually far down the list:
|Country||Chickens per Resident|
Compared to other countries in the world, the United States clearly has many chickens per resident, but it’s not the highest on the charts either.
Here are the countries that produced the most chickens per inhabitant:
Israel is the only country with more than 50 chickens produced per person for every inhabitant. It has, on average, 50.9 chickens per person. Belarus is second on the list, with 42 chickens per person produced for meat.
We need to note that the first four countries of this list are calculated based on imputed values provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Poland is the first country on the list with official figures, and the Polish people had 30 chickens produced per person in 2021. This is only one chicken more than the Netherlands, which produces 29 chickens per person.
Source: FAO; USDA; World Bank Open Data; United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs – data last accessed April 2023
Poultry Broiler Producers
The meat production in the poultry industry mainly comes from broiler chickens in commercial egg farms worldwide. According to WATTAgnet, these are the world’s biggest broiler producers in 2022:
|Broilers Slaughtered annually (millions)||Company||Countries|
|4426||JBS S.A.||Brazil, US, Mexico, UK|
|1101||Wen’s Food Group||China|
|655||Koch Foods Inc.||US|
|635||Sanderson Farms Inc.||US|
|625||Cargil||US, Honduras, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Thailand, UK, China|
Overproduction and Export
Most regions consume about as much chicken meat as they consume, but for some countries, there is significant overproduction:
Global exports are predicted to rise by 1% to 13.7 million tons in 2023.
Brazil, remaining avian influenza-free and serving diverse markets, anticipates the largest export increase (7%) to a record 4.8 million tons.
Ukraine is exporting more and more chicken meat to European countries, as it’s currently benefitting from European free-trade measures to support Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
Here are the biggest export regions of 2023:
European exports are expected to decline with the avian influenza restrictions in place.
Apart from Poland, the Dutch-speaking countries (Belgium and the Netherlands) have the highest export of chicken meat.
The Netherlands exported 1,067,292 tonnes of chicken meat in 2021, the highest export after Brazil (3,616,604) and the United States (3,616,604).
Belgium exported 472,928 tonnes of chicken meat in 2021. That’s about 40kg (88 lbs) of chicken meat per Belgian.
Global Egg Production
The global production of eggs has shown a consistent upward trend over the years but has stabilized in the last years during the avian influenza outbreaks. Worldwide egg production peaked in 2020 at 1.65 trillion produced eggs.
There were 1,627 trillion eggs produced globally in 2022. This is a small decrease from the 1,633 trillion eggs produced in 2021 due to the global avian influenza pandemic.
There would have been much more of a drop if it wasn’t for China. While many countries couldn’t keep supermarket shelves stocked, China has remained stable in the face of the global egg shortage that hit in 2022. [GT]
The U.S. struggled with the global avian influenza outbreak and had to cull over 40 million hens in 12 months. Similarly, the EU poultry sector saw a severe decline in production. In some EU countries like France, Italy, and Hungary, production decreased by 11%.
Global Egg Production per Continent
Here is the number of eggs produced per continent in 2021:
|Continent||Number of Eggs|
|Central America + Caribbean||73,760,935,000|
Most of the Asian egg production comes from China, followed by India and Indonesia:
Global Egg Production per Country
China produced about 603 billion eggs in 2022, an increase of 3% from the 586 billion eggs they produced in 2021.
A report sent from the Chinese financial firm Mailyard Futures to the Global Times showed that China produced 31 million tons of eggs in 2022 [Global Times]. A steady increase compared to the 29,7 million tons of eggs they produced in 2021, despite the global egg shortage, which flared up in late 2022.
Experts say this was the result of China’s swift response and rapid measures they introduced to combat bird flu in its early stages.
If you look at the top 10 egg-producing countries in the world in 2021, you can see how much China contributes to global egg production:
Here are the numbers:
|Country||Numbers of Eggs|
The eggs in the poultry industry are produced by commercial egg farms worldwide. According to WATTAgnet, these are the world’s largest egg producers:
|46.8||Beijing Deqingyuan Agricultural Technology Co. Ltd.||United States|
|36||Proteína Animal (PROAN)||Mexico|
|27.6||Rose Acre Farms||United States|
|20.6||Beijing Deqingyuan Agricultural Tecynology Co. Ltd.||China|
|20||Hillandale Farms||United States|
|20||Versova Holdings L.L.P.||United States|
|15.3||Arab Company for Livestock Development (ACOLID)||Saudi Arabia|
|14.5||Daybreak Foods||United States|
It’s interesting to see that there is only a single Chinese egg farm on the list, while China is by far the biggest producer of eggs. On the other hand, half of this list is filled with large American poultry producers.
United States Egg Production
After a period of steady growth, the United States egg production peaked in 2019, followed by a decline since December 2019, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
In 2022, the United States produced a total of 108.89 billion eggs.
US Egg Production in 2022
In 2022, the U.S. struggled to control the bird flu outbreak and had to cull over 40 million hens in the span of a year.
This caused a drop in total egg production and, as a result, many empty shelves in the stores. However, if you plot the egg reduction in absolute values, you can see it’s only a marginal difference on a month-per-month basis compared to 2021.
Most of the eggs in the United States poultry industry are targeted towards table eggs for consumption.
Only 15-16% of the eggs are for hatching new chickens.
US Egg Production per State
Of all states, Iowa has the largest egg production. In November 2022, Iowa produced over 1.02 billion eggs with 49.5 million egg-laying hens. Iowa also has the largest chicken population in the US, with over 60 million chickens.
Here are the top egg-producing US states, with over 500 million eggs produced in November 2022:
Global Egg Export
The Netherlands is the largest egg export country, with 351,223 tonnes of eggs exported in 2021.
In 2022, dairy and eggs were the biggest export product for the Netherlands, with a value of € 11.9 billion [ROV]. Most of the exported eggs go to Germany, the UK, Belgium, and France.
Here are the poultry egg export numbers for 2021:
|Export Country||Eggs (tonnes)|
Global Egg Import
What’s interesting is that The Netherlands is also among the biggest egg-importing countries:
Hong Kong is third on the list as an area with a dense population and a high demand for eggs.
Here are the poultry egg import numbers for 2021:
|Import Country||Eggs (in tonnes)|
|Netherlands (Kingdom of the)||252,148.51|
|China, Hong Kong SAR||183,895.89|
|United Arab Emirates||98,523.13|
Since 2022, a large part of the egg import in European countries can be attributed to the war in Ukraine. The European Union has implemented free-trade measures to support Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Latvia (36%), Poland (23%), and The Netherlands (18%) are the biggest importers of Ukrainian eggs. Germany does not import any Ukrainian eggs. [CBS]
In April 2023, the Dutch poultry sector and animal welfare organizations expressed concerns about the European import of eggs from Ukraine. These eggs are usually harvested from traditional cage systems, which have been banned in Europe for over ten years. Despite Dutch poultry farmers adhering to stringent welfare standards, these eggs are indirectly making their way into the Dutch market.